Jazz and Blues

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Long before Wynton Marsalis and other be-suited neo-traditionalists divided the jazz media, Scott Hamilton turned his back on the fusion favoured by his peers in favour of a saxophone sound that harks right back to the likes of Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter. The latest in the long string of consistently top-quality albums he has recorded for the Concord label since the mid-Seventies is Christmas Love Song. Recorded in London earlier this year, it is essentially another "with strings" effort that transcends the holiday season with the tenorist's great taste and control stretched out over a selection that includes unfamiliar seasonal material alongside such favourites as "White Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland". For good measure, Hamilton is currently on one of his frequent visits to London and is appearing at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street W1 (0171-439 8722) until 4 January.

Another youngish artist making more than the odd nod back to the masters is Diana Krall, whose latest album, Love Scenes, is just out on Impulse. Due to visit these shores in the spring, the Canadian singer-pianist has followed up last year's tribute to Nat King Cole, All For You, with an irresistibly seductive set that ranges from the Gershwins' "They Can't Take That Away From Me", to Dave Frishberg's witty "Peel Me A Grape". Though inevitably seen as a female Harry Connick Jnr, Krall on this evidence is confident enough to go her own way, while guitarist Russell Malone and ubiquitous bassist Christian McBride complement her perfectly.

Somewhat less sophisticated but no less satisfying are two collections just out from the Blue Chicago label (via Direct Distribution). Red Hot Mamas and Clark Street Ramblers each bring together a baker's dozen of performances by various acts that keep the Chicago blues sound alive in the two clubs that share the name of the record label. The former is an all-female album featuring such local favourites as ribald veteran Bonnie Lee and the highly versatile Shirley Johnson, while the latter features such guardians of the Windy City's sound as Willie Kent, Eddy Clearwater and Johnny B Moore.

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